Emily Dale Hosmer de Montluzin, formerly of Bay St. Louis, MS, and since 2005 of Florence, SC, died October 20, 2020, at the age of 105.
She was born August 6, 1915, in Greenwood, MS, and grew up in Greenwood and Yazoo City, the daughter of Emily Ann Gayden Hosmer of Winona, MS, and Harry Hosmer of Youngstown, NY. She graduated in 1935 from the University of Mississippi at the age of nineteen with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education, having majored in English with minors in French, Latin, and Spanish. Immediately after graduation she passed Civil Service exams as a translator of French and Spanish and then found her first position as a teacher in a country school at Yocana, near Oxford, in the heart of what would later be known as Faulkner Country. Here for one year she taught all the English and spelling classes from the sixth grade through the twelfth, kept a study hall, and directed the senior play at a salary of $62.50 a month, for this was during the Great Depression.
After transferring to the faculty of Inverness High School and teaching English there for four years, she moved to Bay St. Louis in 1940 to teach Latin, Spanish, and English at Bay High School, and on her first day in town she met her future husband, René de Montluzin, Jr. Two weeks after the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor she was informed by the War Department that her country needed her services more than her school did: Postal censorship stations had been established in major port cities immediately after the outbreak of hostilities, and qualified translators were in demand to read all incoming and outgoing mail.
For a year (first in the Federal Building in New Orleans and later in New York City) she was a censor of French, Spanish, and English mail, being selected after several months for additional training in the breaking of codes and cyphers. Code-breaking in 1942, before the advent of computer programs, required intense coördination of mind and eye, necessitating the copying of suspicious messages, letter by letter, into the squares of graph paper, the use of rulers to isolate diagonal sequences of letters, and the mental concentration to eliminate systematically the innumerable possible permutations of patterns until the hidden message emerged. Emily’s greatest service to the war effort occurred when, on duty in New Orleans, she became suspicious of a letter (written in English) and after two and a half days broke its coded message--instructions to enemy operatives in the Canal Zone to blow up a lock in the Panama Canal.
Emily married René de Montluzin, Jr., in late 1942, and the two lived for several years in New London, Connecticut, where her husband was stationed during World War II at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. For the rest of the war she worked in the Groton offices of the Electric Boat Company, builders of submarines for the Navy.
Back in Bay St. Louis in l945, she and her husband René, the owner of de Montluzin Pharmacy, became active in business and community affairs and in school activities. They were charter members of the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club and the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre (in which Emily frequently took part in plays), and Emily served as president of the Hancock County Library Board and as an active member of the altar guild of Christ Episcopal Church and of the Hancock County Historical Society. Their daughter, Emily Lorraine de Montluzin, was born in 1948.
In l970 Emily resumed her long-interrupted career as a teacher, returning to Bay Senior High School to teach French and Latin until her retirement in 1983. On that occasion a group of her students and friends established in her name the Emily de Montluzin Foreign Language Scholarship, which currently provides an annual award of $3,000 to a graduating senior from any high school in Hancock County who has excelled in the study of a foreign language and plans to continue that study. As of 2020 the Emily de Montluzin Foreign Language Scholarship has been awarded to thirty-four exemplary foreign language students. After retirement Emily served for a number of years as a tutor in the Mississippi Adult Literacy Program, teaching English to immigrant women, and then as a volunteer teacher of Latin and French.
She and her daughter, Dr. Emily Lorraine de Montluzin, moved to Florence, SC, where the latter is a Professor of History, emeritus, at Francis Marion University, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home in Bay St. Louis. In Florence, Emily for years audited classes in English, French, German, History, and Mythology at Francis Marion University.
Emily is the author (with her daughter) of Dearest Arlette: Everyday Life in Postwar America and France, 1945-1955, as Recorded in the Letters of Two Reunited Families (2011).
Funeral services will take place, at a date to be determined later, at Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis, MS, with interment in Gardens of Memory Cemetery to follow.
It is requested than in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Emily de Montluzin Foreign Language Scholarship Fund.